It’s the end of the month, and that means Jackie and I had a conversation about the books we read for #ReadingValdemar. For four months, we read two books each month, but we’re finally down to one book per month. We’re on track to finish our reading goal, because guess what? We’re at the half-way point! I hope you’ve been following along and adding your URLs to our linky — the giveaway happens at the end of June: $20 to an online book depository, which a chance for non-United States bloggers to win!
How did Winds of Change inform or change your impression of the fantasy genre?
Melanie: I don’t think I’ve read any fantasy that focuses more on a tropical setting. The Tayledras vales are inside protected domes. Even the weather is altered in there. While is was snowing outside the k’Sheyna vale, inside it was humid, full of wading pools, and everyone slept in trees. I’m used to every fantasy novel being some version of Merlin and King Arthur: medieval-feeling, castles, a looming scary mountain. Also, most fantasy I’ve read has a distinctly British feel to it. Made up countries are fairly obvious replicas of England, Ireland, maybe Italy if we’ve got some traveling characters. In one book I read, the characters made it to what had to be a Middle Eastern-type of country, but that seems rare.
Jackie: I love that you acknowledge the setting being so different from most fantasy settings. There are a few books that Tamora Pierce wrote which take place in tropical locations (Daughter of the Lioness duology, for example). However, I felt like Winds of Change informed my existing understanding of stereotypical fantasy rather than broke it down. Obviously, there’s the whole Faux-Medieval Europe thing in Valdemar, and we’re heading back there ASAP, despite this holiday in a more tropical climate. We’ve got a twist on the Lucky Novice in both Elspeth and Firesong. We’ve got both the Waiting Evil and Black and White Morality in Falconsbane’s existence. The “Here comes the Calvary” twist with the arrival of the k’Leshya claim. I found this book to be a bit tedious and predictable, but I love it anyway. These characters! ❤
What could you have totally done without that happened in Winds of Change?
Melanie: There were some minor plot threads that didn’t make sense to me until they were used last second to save the day. I don’t like that. Mostly, I didn’t understand what was going on with Dawnfire: she was dead, she was put in a bird, she was saved by a goddess (I think) and then was a bird again? But wasn’t losing her personality to the bird’s?
And then we get a random section in which Tre’valen decides Dawnfire is his soulmate, but I don’t remember them interacting? I have to use the Valdemar Wikia to remind myself about these characters because they were inconsequential until at the last minute they weren’t.
Jackie: Ugh. That whole Tra’valen/Dawnfire sub-subplot line was so confusing. Why did it matter? I think that whole plotline could have been removed and the story would have changed very little. I hope it comes back in the next book. I also felt like the magic lessons were overdone. I got bored with Darkwind and Elspeth being in a training montage for over half the book. The biggest challenge was that Lackey was telling during these scenes instead of showing. Ugh! A lot of this telling instead of showing really slowed down the pace. Finally, the whole Here Comes the Calvary bit made me roll my eyes a bit. It was too convenient.
Melanie: Not gonna lie, I love the training parts. Firesong is like “try this” and easy-peasy lemon-squeezy, something magical would happen. I get why nerdy kids go around waving their arms and pretending to banish things — and may even wear capes and have wands? I’m not sure what the kids are doing these days.
Did Winds of Change end in such a way that made you want to keep reading the third book in the trilogy, Winds of Fury?
Jackie: Yes! And this reaction surprised me. I didn’t really connect to the book until Chapter 14, 57% of the way through the novel. When Winds of Change ended, I felt like I could take a comfortable break away from these books but I definitely wanted to keep reading. There are so many unanswered questions! I desperately want to know what’s going to happen. Reading The Last Herald-Mage trilogy before this also drove me to ask many more questions from this book, mostly related to the connections with magic, what Herald-Mage Vanyel did before/when he died, and what is going to happen in the future of Valdemar. Don’t worry, I have an extensive list of questions I wrote down that I hope to have answered in Winds of Fury.
Melanie: I felt like this section of Valdemar could have been a duology because so much has happened, but that villain is a wily one. He keeps escaping out the back door, which some hypothetical idiot has propped open.
Honestly, I want to move on to Elspeth in Valdemar and maybe more with Firesong. He’s so Vanyel-like but from a third-person perspective, so I’m pumped when he’s around. What we do know is that Elspeth and Darkwind are going to Valdemar, which I’m assuming means there will be lot of “why aren’t you wearing many clothes?” and “why is your hair white?” and “don’t bring your griffon in the dining room.”
Jackie: You know, you’re right. I think the content of THE MAGE WINDS would have been stronger as a duology. As we both pointed out, there were quite a few additional characters and sub-subplot lines this book could have done without. A duology would have made this story more concise. Great point!
How are you feeling about your progress and participation in #ReadingValdemar?
Jackie: I am extraordinarily thankful that you’ve welcomed me on this journey to read the Valdemar books, Melanie! I have really enjoyed getting to know not only a new-to-me author, but a female fantasy author. I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, but I find that most of what I read is written by men. This has been a breath of fresh air in my fantasy explorations. #ReadingValdemar has also been an anchor in my reading and blogging this year. With everything that’s been going on related to my job and buying a farm, I know I would have vanished from the blogosphere for a few months. Blogging and reading is something that brings me joy and keeps me sane. If I had dropped this, my mental state would be much worse right now. Thank you for helping keep me afloat!
Melanie: Liar, liar, pants on fire. You are the best kind of friend: you invited yourself “over”! I told you I was doing this ambitious, nutty reading thing and you said you were coming into my book house (which I picture being a hut made out of one big Mario Bros. mushroom). Honestly, I think I would be less happy with this project if I were doing it alone. I know that when I read the entire Anne of Green Gables series my readership starting dropping off. Either people had read Anne’s story already, or they hadn’t and didn’t want to read my review of the first book and then spoil the seven following. #ReadingValdemar is going to take about 2.5 years, so it’s quite a journey. A fantasy journey. A book trope happening to US.